What is Eating Disorders
Eating disorders refer to illnesses caused by unhealthy eating habits. These illnesses could be caused by psychological conditions such as severe distress and food obsession or concern about body weight or body shape.
Eating disorders are prevalent in our society today. A lot of people struggle with it as it could affect anyone regardless of age or gender.
An eating disorder is treatable – therefore, it could be classified as a medical illness. Still, if one shows symptoms such as excess food consumption, severe food restrictions, or overexercising, the issue should be addressed on time as the consequences can be very detrimental to the health of the victim.
When a person suffers from eating disorders, he or she may also be suffering from other psychological conditions, such as anxiety and depression, or engage in substance abuse.
Causes of Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders could be caused by a variety of factors; these include genetics and biological factors, psychological and emotional factors, and societal factors.
Genetics could profoundly influence eating disorders. Certain people may possess genes capable of increasing their risk of developing eating disorders. Furthermore, biological factors, such as changes in brain chemicals could also cause this disorder.
Psychological and emotional factors
Psychological and emotional factors could also be a reason for eating disorders. People who battle with low self-esteem, impulsive behavior, perfectionism, unhealthy relationships, and other related issues may be at a higher risk of developing this disorder.
Another potential cause of eating disorders is societal influence. Some people may begin to eat excessively or irregularly because they perceive themselves as too fat or thin, and may sometimes end up having unhealthy diets which may cause eating disorder illnesses.
In most cases, these people are being influenced by societal and peer pressure, causing them to want to look like others to be accepted.
Common Types of Eating Disorders
1. Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is the most prominent eating disorder. It generally occurs during adolescence or young adulthood and is more common with women than men.
Anorexia disorder is of two types, which are the restrictive type and the binge eating type. Those who are suffering from anorexia generally see themselves as being overweight, even when they are severely underweight.
They are very conscious of their weight, and may drastically restrict their calorie intake. They may also avoid eating certain types of foods.
People who possess the restricting type influence their weight loss solely through dieting, fasting, or excessive workout. One the other hand, people with a binge-eating type of anorexia may eat large amounts of food or eat very little.
After their meal, they purge themselves either by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, or engage in excessive exercising.
Anorexia has a very detrimental effect on the body. People who have anorexia may likely experience infertility, thinning of their bones, bone loss, hair brittle, and nails brittle, anemia, gastrointestinal issues and heart problems with time. It could also lead to brain failure and could damage other organs or even death in very severe cases.
2. Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa Is also common during adolescence and early adulthood. And like Anorexia, it affects more women than men.
People that suffer from this type of eating disorder often consume large amounts of food in no specific period and may eat until they feel the pain of being overfed. They feed this way with any food and are unable to control how much they consume. After their meal, they may also purge themselves either by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, or engage in excessive exercising.
However, people with bulimia can maintain a relatively healthy weight, rather than becoming underweight. People affected with bulimia may likely experience inflamed and sore throat, worn tooth enamel, tooth decay, irritation of the gut, acid reflux, severe dehydration, swollen salivary glands, and hormonal disturbances. It could cause stroke in very severe cases.
How to Cope With Eating Disorders
1. Talk to your doctor
As stated above, eating disorders could cause serious health complications that could eventually lead to death. It is crucial to seek the attention of a medical professional if you think you may have such an illness, or you know someone suffering from it so that victims can get the necessary treatment they need for recovery.
2. Identify the things that trigger irregular eating habits
Look out for things that cause irregular food consumption. It could be an image of people who are perceived to have a “perfect body” or maybe negative interaction with friends and family, or even genetics. Once you get to know what influences it, you stand a better chance of tackling the issue.
3. Accept body diversity
There are different body types in the world. If you have difficulty accepting the way your body looks, you can search for all the varieties of body types we have in the world to see how unique and special each one is.
You can do your research on the internet or visit an art museum to see classical paintings, of times where people had more value for different physiques than we do today.
This could help you accept the fact that you are unique too and don’t need to change the way you look because of societal influence.
4. Consciously work on your eating habits
You can do so by setting goals that are attainable for yourself. If you are the type that finds it hard to eat, you can start by adding a light snack into your diet, then gradually transition into eating a whole meal as time goes on.
If you are the type that overeats, you can start by reducing the amount of food you consume by one-third, then you can gradually reduce by half, and so on till you get to a healthy diet. It is also advisable to see a therapist to help you with the process.
5. Study God’s Word, and Seek Him in Prayers
God created food for our nourishment and well-being and not for our destruction. This is evident in Genesis 1:29 which reads; “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you, it shall be for meat.”
Furthermore, The Bible makes us understand that God isn’t after our physical appearance. He has made us beautiful and unique in our ways.
He is mostly concerned with what we have in our hearts. This is evident in 1 Samuel 16:7, which reads “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
If you get to study the Word of God, you would see the reasons why you should be free from eating disorders. Therefore always seek him in prayers and study his words fervently.